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5 Best Places For Kayaking Near Albuquerque

Kayaking near Albuquerque, New Mexico…Yes!  Just because you didn’t see kayakers on your favorite episode of Breaking Bad doesn’t mean that there aren’t incredible river kayaking opportunities in the Land of Enchantment.  The only twist is that you must drive a bit north of ABQ to get the Goods!  The section of the Rio Grande that flows through the big city is wide and flat, albeit nice, however, deep canyons and awesome whitewater are beckoning.

Drive North and choose from our 5 best places for kayaking near Albuquerque!
  1. Middle Taos Box
  2. The Wild and Scenic Rio Chama
  3. The Orilla Verde
  4. The Racecourse Rio Grande
  5. Santa Cruz Lake

 

1. The Middle Taos Box

Hidden away below the confluence of the Red River and The Rio Grande, in the depths of the Wild and Scenic Rio Grande Gorge, lies one of the most remote and beautiful sections of river in New Mexico.  The payoff is big for this one after you strap your kayak on your back and hike a mile down into the canyon.  This 7-mile stretch offers paddlers a beautiful wilderness experience with a couple of class 3sh rapids and a handful of class 2.  An abundance of birds of prey, otters, bighorn sheep, bear, and lots more await the most adventurous kayakers. For those who are new to kayaking in New Mexico or that need a preview of this section, New Mexico River Adventures offers a full-day Middle Taos Box inflatable kayaking trip led by expert guides.

 

2. The Wild and Scenic Rio Chama

Rio Chama Kayaking Near Albuquerque

The Rio Chama is a hidden gem among southwest multi-day river trips.  A beautiful canyon on the edge of the Colorado Plateau with amazing camps and perfect kayaking rapids.  Bring your inflatable kayak along and chill out or take on a new sport, whitewater kayaking.  New Mexico River Adventures offers a 3-day Rio Chama whitewater rafting trip with the option to kayak included. It’s the perfect progression for those that want to learn how to kayak.  Graduate on days 2 and 3 of the trip with some class 3 rapids and let your mind be blown!

 

3. The Orilla Verde

Kayaking In Albuquerque New Mexico

This nice half-day stretch of the Rio Grande traverses the latter part of the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument.  This 6-mile section has an average gradient of 12 feet per mile, which means that there is no stress!  Sit back and watch the canyon walls envelop you as you kick back and float downstream.  Just a couple of ripples to enjoy with the gold of sunshine.  The Orilla Verde trip always seems to fill the cup!

 

4. The Racecourse

Racecourse Kayaking In New Mexico

Ah Yes, the most exciting section of river for anyone to jump in an inflatable kayak and get after it!  Please remember to be with someone experienced or a guide.  When the water levels on the Rio Grande drop below 600 cfs or so, this section becomes a super exciting and fun challenge for the more adventurous river runners.  Choose an inflatable kayak, but pay attention, there is some paddlin’ to do!

 

5. Santa Cruz Lake

To Round out the list of kayaking near Albuquerque, we’ve included an absolutely, gorgeous lake in the foothills of the Truchas Mountains.  Fed by the small, idyllic Santa Cruz creek, this lake is the perfect spot to learn to kayak.  During the heat of the summer, the water is warm and it truly is a great spot to introduce first-timers and kids to the wonders of whitewater kayaking and the amazing places it can take you.  The Wonders!!


Thanks For Paddling By!

Thanks for reading along and taking an interest in New Mexico kayaking! Whether you are brand new to the sport or looking to explore new water for kayaking near Albuquerque, we’re here to help you have a great time. If you are looking to advance your kayaking skills, please check out our various swiftwater rescue and kayaking instructional clinics. We’re looking forward to seeing you on the river!

Rio Grande Racecourse Half Day

Difficulty
Mild to Moderate
Duration
Half Day
Price
$56 Adult
$46 Child
Age
5

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Rio Grande Gorge Rafting Full Day

Difficulty
Mild to Moderate
Duration
Full Day
Price
$100 Adult
$80 Child
Age
5

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Rio Chama River Rafting 3 Day

Difficulty
Mild
Duration
Multi Day
Price
$495 Adult
$400 Child
Age
6

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Learn More